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Canon XL and GL Series DV Camcorders
Canon XL2 / XL1S / XL1 and GL2 / XM2 / GL1 / XM1.


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Old January 9th, 2005, 04:53 AM   #1
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Manual or automatic

Hello,

I was wondering what you guys do manual and what you let the camera do. For example: when shooting short films, I always shoot everything manual, exposure, WB, focus, etc...but when filmen on the street for documentary when I have to get indoors and outdoors a lot, I set the camera to A (auto) so I let the camera take care of the lightening. auto iris, shutter etc of the camera is verry good!
I think the auto white balace of the camera is pretty good, verry fast, but still al prefer my WB to be controled manualy.
The auto focus of this camera sucks!!
I think it's not verry fast, and also the camera focusses on the center of the image, so when filming two people, I get sharp background an blurry faces :s. :

http://groups.msn.com/Mr70sfanclub/shoebox.msnw?action=ShowPhoto&PhotoID=3

So what do you guys do manualy, and what not?
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Old January 9th, 2005, 05:09 AM   #2
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I can't speak for the XL2 (since I had an XL1S), but I left everything
on manual all the time except WB. That was always on auto and
I've never had a problem with that. Then ofcourse I wasn't doing
any work where you need to get a shot fast (news, docu's etc.).

I guess in the end it all comes down to what works for you. If you
need to capture a news item manual focus is probably the one
you want but everything else (including gain for example) might
be on auto since it really doesn't matter if there is grain or the
camera chooses a different shutter speed as long as you can see
what is happening and it is IN FOCUS!

Edit: I just remember that my audio has been on auto most of
the times as well, but none of them had any serious acting where
lines where spoken, so......
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Old January 9th, 2005, 11:42 AM   #3
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<<<-- Originally posted by Rob Lohman : I can't speak for the XL2 (since I had an XL1S), but I left everything
on manual all the time except WB. That was always on auto and
I've never had a problem with that. -->>>

I agree, the automatic white balance of the XL1S is almost never wrong, I'm really surprised by that.
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Old January 9th, 2005, 06:29 PM   #4
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There are some tutorial movies at the link below that provide a good illustration of the differences between auto and manual modes (not camera specific). Worth a look.


http://www.sony.com.au/articles/arti...articleId=3500
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Old January 10th, 2005, 01:06 AM   #5
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Manual WB is Usually Best

I have found manual white balance to almost always be superior to auto WB.
Particularly if it is a multi-camera shoot.

Once you get into the habit of doing a manual WB, it's quick and easy.

Of course, there are always exceptions. Sometimes the urgency of the event doesn't permit time to manual WB. So this is where you really need to know your camera. Usually there are multiple auto WB settings:
-- general auto WB
-- outdoor/daylight auto WB
-- indoor/tungsten auto WB
-- others

If you have experimented with each of these settings, then you can quickly select the one that's the best auto WB when you don't have time for a manual WB.
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Old January 10th, 2005, 05:31 AM   #6
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I never shot multi-camera indeed. And my post work always
involved color correction work, so that might have been a reason
that auto WB worked so well for me, who knows. Perhaps the
light here is just... different <g>
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Old January 10th, 2005, 10:59 AM   #7
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The only thing I ever leave on auto is the audio levels. The camera seems to do an excellant job managing the levels.
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Old January 10th, 2005, 11:17 AM   #8
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I also used an XL1s heavily. I did find it's auto WB to be excellent, but I think that going manual, when you had a the time, was a slgith improvement. I also kept everything manual except for the audio.

The only time I went manual for audio was when I didn't have a lav or a sound guy and I had to rely on the on camera boom. (Which was very rare.)
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Old January 10th, 2005, 10:01 PM   #9
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Problems with Auto Audio Level

The problem with using auto audio levels (AKA ALC, AGC) is that it can cause all audio levels to be normalized, bringing up low levels, and bringing down high levels, regardless of whether you want them soft or loud. This effectively reduces the dynamic range of your recording. For example, if there is a significant pause in dialog, then the auto level will bring up the background sound/noise. If in one segment, people are whispering, it will bring up the level closer to normal voice level. Or if they are shouting, it will bring down the level closer to normal. How good of a job it does depends on the camera you're using.

Auto audio level is very similar to auto exposure. Usually you don't want this. But there may be cases where you need it, as in one-cameraman, run & gun, event videography. Using manual audio levels requires a lot of experience with your specific camera and mic, and the time to setup and test prior to shooting.

It has been reported that different cameras have different quality of auto level control. It is generally recognized that most (all?) consumer cameras have very poor ALC. Some prosumer cameras are believed to be much better. And supposedly the pro camera ALC can be quite good (don't know, haven't been there :-) ).

If your camera has an audio limiter (which is quite different from ALC/AGC), then you may want to leave this turned on. It reacts very quickly (millisec) and will protect the recording from sudden very loud peaks which would otherwise be clipped.

And, to further confuse :) the issue, there are three ways of dealing with audio levels:
1. gain (auto or manual)
2. limiters
3. compression

For a good discussion on this see Limiting vs. Compression vs. AGC.

I have found "Great Sound for Digital Video" by Jay Rose to be very helpful. You can check it out at his web site http://www.dplay.com/. He has a link there where you can get it for a discount at amazon.com for about $35 US.

More than anything else, test and experiment with your camera and mic(s). Try to have a dedicated sound man whenever possible.

HTH.
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Old January 10th, 2005, 11:13 PM   #10
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I always use Audio on manual. AGC is simply no good - everything normalised until it is so flat. I use a Field Production Mixer with a limiter - so it is not direct input from microphone into the camera.

Also I leave the zebra pattern on ... the real aid to manual/auto exposure. On my older XL1 and sometimes too on XL2, I found the dynamic range a bit limiting - you have a white bird feathers (cranes, stocks, etc) against a dark background ... so the camera totally overexpose the bird - you get a walking ghost - a bird with totally no details at all. If I see that, I will switch over to manual immediately.

I found the WB on this camera to be really good - so I leave it on AUTO all the time.

TS
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Old January 12th, 2005, 04:06 PM   #11
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Everything on manual for me except the audio gain and sometimes auto-focus. While I have hated AGC's on general principals throughout a 40 year engineering career I find the one on the XL2 to do a pretty good job. I'm usually only interested in the background sounds that go with what I'm shooting and if I were to set up sound manually I'd probably set it about where the camera sets it. I agree that for full creative control audio gain should be set manually.

As for white balance - it takes so little to do it manually I always do. My lens cap is translucent, neutral, and has 18% transmittance so that all that is necessary to get a white balance is to turn on the camera, aim it at the light source, make sure the exposure indicator is some where on the scale and push the little button. If I'm going in and out of the shade I may capture one WB for full sun and another for the shade. I don't think the white balance switch on my XL2 has ever been in the auto position. The only thing that scares me a little about my procedure is that I'm sure that some day I am going to think that the lens cap is on there when it isn't and point the camera directly at the sun.
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Old January 17th, 2005, 09:27 AM   #12
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bird feathers

TingSern Wong wrote

<< I found the dynamic range a bit limiting - you have a white bird feathers (cranes, stocks, etc) against a dark background ... so the camera totally overexpose the bird - you get a walking ghost - a bird with totally no details at all. If I see that, I will switch over to manual immediately>>

For my purposes (to video vultures in slow flight) you are using techniques that I wish to acquire/adapt with GL2, TingSern Wong. What did you do with your XL1 or XL2 in manual (1) to counteract the overexposure & (2) to sharpen feather details & (3) to keep focus while the bird was moving/flying out of focus? What distance (approx) were you from the birds?

All advice appreciated even if it's not for GL2.

Brendan Marnell
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Old January 17th, 2005, 11:00 AM   #13
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You might have to adapt the techniques I use to the ability of your camera. I am not sure if GL2 has the features I use on my XL2 - but, I will list them here.

Turn on Zebra pattern and set it to 85 IRE. Default is 90 IRE. That way, you can immediately judge whether the critical areas of the scene is going to be over-exposed. Use manual metering - allows you to control both shutter and aperature. Look at the subject and its zebra pattern. If the subject is over-exposed while the meter (which is reading from the entire scene) says it is okay, I will under-expose the scene until the zebra goes away. This might make the scene a bit dark - but, it will definitely preserve details in the most critical areas - the whilte feathers. If not enough time to use manual metering, I will control automatic exposure by using the AE Shift dial - which allows +/- 2 fstops control. Be sure to reset the AE Shift to 0 after using.

For lenses - sometimes I use the 20X zoom lens with 1.6X teleconvertor. Sometimes I use the EF convertor and a Canon 75-300mm 35mm zoom lens. Sometimes I use the Sigma 50-500mm 35mm zoom lens. If 20X video lens is used, I switch over to manual focusing. EF lenses are manual lens on EF convertor anyway.

Depending on the size of the bird and distance from the camera to the bird, I normally track the bird once - set the focus to the bird, and then shoot. Mostly, it will be in focus. Any focusing errors due to bird flying in / out of focusing range will be compensated by a relatively small aperature or crop out during post editing.

Vultures are large birds and they using soar using thermals - going in circles. Tracking them should be easy.

Just make sure you use a strong and rigid tripod for that.

All the best,
TS
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Old January 17th, 2005, 12:32 PM   #14
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Thats' going into my notes until I get it off by heart a la GL2; thank you TS

Brendan
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Old January 17th, 2005, 08:37 PM   #15
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No problems, sir. It was a pleasure to assist.
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